May 7, 1983: Stevie Wonder Hosts SNL

Stevie Wonder, Eddie Murphy
Photo Credit
SNL

On this day in '83, the legendary Stevie Wonder brought the house down as the host and musical guest on Saturday Night Live. 

Introduced by Don Pardoners as the "12 year old genius," Little Stevie kicked off the show with an energetic performance of his first hit, 1963's "Fingertips," alongside his backing band and SNL's horn section. Given the introduction, the singer's voice was auto-tuned to sound as high-pitched like the young vocals a child prodigy. 

The soul legend launched into sketches throughout the night, including the 'Stevie Experience' with 80's SNL star Eddie Murphy. Murphy takes the role of a sassy professional Stevie Wonder impersonator for a Miss Black Teenage America Contest, critiquing Wonder's renditions of "Superstition" and "Living for the City." Murphy's character fails to be impressed until Wonder breaks into his 1969 classic "My Cherie Amour."

Murphy later recalled getting cursed out by African Americans on the street for his joking criticisms of Wonder in his comedy special Delirious. "Stevie Wonder's a musical genius," one screamed at him. "That's terrible, man. Your mother brought you up wrong. That's what it is. Your mother brought you up wrong, motherfucker."

In another sketch dubbed 'Dions', Wonder rejoins Murphy - this time at a salon where Murphy dons a red wig as a flamboyant hairdresser who loses his cool when Wonder steps in for a hair appointment. 

The musical highlight of the night would be Wonder's breathtaking solo piano performance of 1985's "Overjoyed," an R&B ballad released in his album In Square Circle

Before he began to play, Wonder gave a quick shout out to the SNL cast and crew, his friends and family, and of course, his mom: "Momma, follow me. It's Saturday Night Live," he comically squeaked. 

Wonder would wrap the show with another funky tune from In Square Circle, "Go Home" and a final loving word to Murphy to stop impersonating him on TV.

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